Another summer theme, just because I feel like it, having spent all day playing and swimming with friends. A perfect complement to the songs next to it on The Unforgettable Fire, Indian Summer Sky is fast but loud, has good beat and music, interesting lyrics, and just works well overall. It follows Bad and leads into Elvis Presley and America, which give interest at the end of the album. It’s kind of like the ending to The Joshua Tree, where the last few songs are a little deep and introspective sounding, a little mystical, and really take your attention when you’re starting to think the album is tailing away. In this case I almost think that these three songs are the best songs on the album, with at least one exception (Pride).
When I talked about Elvis Presley and America I was somewhat amazed that the lyrics were very lyrical and poetic, even though they were essentially a stream of consciousness from Bono as the song was being played. Nothing done to clean them up, just laid down as they were sung the first time. For Indian Summer Sky, it gives off much of the same feeling, but with the exception that it feels like the song was actually cleaned up, proper lyrics completed, basically a few steps further than Elvis was taken when it was done. This is a good thing, because these lyrics really sound complete, like Bono was trying to say something, although I’m not sure what.
It starts with him saying that whether he’s in the ocean, a forest or in a hole in the ground, he wants to head up and look at the sky. Then he talks about sparks of flame, light striking the trees, wind blowing through his heart. I’m not sure what he’s trying to get at here, what the meaning might be. If anything, reading into it a little shallowly, it seems to be a celebration of nature, of light, the sky and sunlight and the earth. Is it just a hippy song, getting back to nature? It’s possible, although as always Bono has multiple layers within a song. But I do think this is at least the general feeling of the song, trying to get out of somewhere and into pure nature. Something I love to do myself, too.
“Hup hup hup hup” is sung in the background, not sure who that might be. Eno? Lanois? I don’t even know who was working on the album at the time, and I am not going to go look at liner notes to figure out who they credit with it.
Going back to the rest of the music, this is again a song where the band is working so well together. As time has gone on, listening to the different songs on the albums, you see a clear progression from the rough and tumble early stuff, working forward with each album becoming better and better musically. They have learned their instruments (or at least are many steps further along the path of learning) and now they are working together, timing things correctly, each part coming in to make a much superior whole. It’s really an amazing thing to listen to the band progress this way.
My rating for Indian Summer Sky: 7 / 10